WOODBURY – Not all stories about abandoned dogs have a happy ending. But the one about Rudy, abandoned in Woodbury, does.
An arrest made June 26 in the case of Rudy, the abandoned pit bull found starved and roaming in the area of 47 Judd Hill Rd. last month. Even better, Rudy is gaining weight and already sleeping on the sofa of its new owners, who have asked not to be identified.
Anita Marie Lockhart-Howard, 47, of 351 Tudor St. in Waterbury, was arrested and charged with cruelty animals. State Police Sgt. Joseph Roden says an investigation into the case shows that, intentionally, Rudy was abandoned in Woodbury.
Rudy’s Woodbury Timeline
On May 24, Woodbury Animal Control Officer Judy Umstead responded to a stray dog call at 47 Judd Hill Rd. Gina Gardella, the homeowner, told Umstead that she fed Rudy a small amount of food, which caused him to have severe diarrhea. Rudy also had sores on both his wrists, a visible rib cage and protruding hip bones.
Later that day, Umstead brought Rudy to Watertown Animal Hospital, where he was examined by Steven Price DVP. Price determined that the 39-lb. Rudy was severely emaciated and had suffered abuse and neglect. Rudy was prescribed prescription food, and antibiotics for open sores on his wrists.
Rudy was also microchipped, which helped police locate locate Lockhart-Howard.
On May 27, Lockhart-Howard met with Police Officer Jody Rockhill at the Woodbury Resident Trooper’s Office. Lockhart-Howard signed Rudy’s ownership over to the Town of Woodbury. She also told police that Rudy had a history of being destructive and running away, and claimed Rudy had escaped from her fenced-in yard.
Lockhart-Howard also told police she had spoken with Rudy’s veterinarian about his weight loss. She told police her veterinarian suggested Rudy’s weight had dropped from 57 lbs. to 39 because “he had picked up something when he ran away.” Lockhart-Howard made no mention of the vet asking her to bring Rudy in for an examination.
On June 12, an arrest warrant for Lockhart-Howard on the animal cruelty charge. Lockhart-Howard was arrested on the outstanding warrant on June 26, and is scheduled to appear at Waterbury Superior Court on July 5 to face charges.
Up until he was found in Woodbury, Rudy had not led a dog’s life.
Umstead had contacted Home Again and determined that Rudy’s microchip had been sold to Middletown (CT) Animal Control. Rudy had been impounded as a stray, and he was transported to the Connecticut Humane Society for neutering.
Rudy was adopted on Nov. 11, 2016 by Lockhart-Howard, who changed his name to Champ. Middletown Animal Control Officer Gail Petras followed up with Lockhart-Howard to make sure the microchip was properly registered, and Lockhart-Howard seemed very happy with the dog and emailed an adoption photo to Petras.
But on January 10, Rudy went missing, but was returned by Waterbury Animal Control. On Feb. 1, Petras received a call from Wolcott Animal Control Officer Roz Nenninger, who had picked Rudy up as a stray. Petras reported that Champ looked thin, and Nenninger returned Rudy to Lockhart-Howard.
Then on May 23, a day before Rudy turned up in Woodbury, Lockhart-Howard tried to return Rudy to the Connecticut Humane Society. Lockhart-Howard stated Rudy was “destructive, not housebroken, and escapes.” Lockhart-Howard was advised that the Connecticut Humane Society would not take Rudy back, and offered other options, according to the police report.
Kitty Baker of the Connecticut Humane Society told police that Lockhart-Howard appeared “upset and angry stating she would find other options.”
Rudy’s Bad Rap
Despite Lockhart-Howard’s claims, Umstead said Champ – who she re-named Rudy when he was turned over to the town – couldn’t have been a better dog. In fact, Rudy did not fit the behavioral description that Lockhart-Howard provided.
“Rudy was a perfect angel when he was with us,” Umstead says. “He was housebroken, he was calm, he was friendly. He was everything [Lockhart-Howard] said she wasn’t.”
While Rudy was with the Town of Woodbury, Umstead says he hung out in the police department “with the boys,” and also hung out in First Selectman Bill Butterly’s office.
Umstead said it was also easy to adopt Rudy out because once he was turned over to the town, there was a lot less red tape to deal with.
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